New Senior Softball Captains Feel the Pressure

Bailey Whitlock, Staff Writer

HattonWhen the Lion softball program started two years ago, it was known that it was going to be a challenge but the building had to start somewhere and it started with getting leaders to guide the direction of the program. That is how three senior team members made history with the program.

Luci Ponce came to A&M-Commerce from Weatherford College to be part of the new program, because she wanted “to start from the ground and move up to success.”

The pressure was on for Ponce, an infielder who was named team captain and forced to “step out of her comfort zone.”

“I had never led a team before and there was pressure from the school and community not to make any mistakes because all eyes were on us,” Ponce said, referring to the team being on their toes trying to make a good initial impression for the program.

Ponce, named all-conference at Weatherford College, was a four-year letter winner at her high school and two-time league MVP her junior and senior year. She also spent several years playing on a club team in her hometown of San Jose, Calif.

Ponce is a well-rounded individual and athlete, also lettering in basketball and volleyball while in high school.

“Playing softball here has impacted my life by opening up so many opportunities for success,” Ponce said.

Also through being on the team, Ponce has multiple networking opportunities that have enhanced her career path.

Kylene Hatton is also a senior, who has racked up runs on the board as a hitter and base runner.

A four-year letter winner at Royal High School in California, Hatton came to Commerce to discover and soak in the different areas and cultures around the country. She also came to be a part of the history with A&M-Commerce’s first softball team.

Feeling the pressures of first-year program challenges, Hatton said she took the first-year as a growing year and has continually grown with the program.

“The team was so young that the spotlight was on us as leaders. We had to lead by example and be leaders on and off the field for the younger members of the team,” Hatton said.

She spent two seasons with North Idaho College and hit .380 with four homeruns and 25 RBIs. She was named NFCA Academic All-American and NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-American.

“I want to leave here being remembered for somebody who gives their all on and off the field and someone who always puts the team first,” Hatton said.

Danielle Guerra, a kinesiology major from Vernon, Texas is an infielder who played at Vernon College where she was named to the outstanding defensive team. She ended her high school career with a .400 batting average.

Guerra came to A&M-Commerce after hearing about the success of coach Richie Bruister from one of his former players that she played for. She has gained a lot through being a part of this team and the program by meeting a lot of people through community service projects and camps.

After being given the platform of being a leader on the team, Guerra said that it has allowed her “to set the standards for the team and program through the many things that the team does on and off the field.”

“I want to leave this team being known as a hard worker, good person and passionate on and off the field,” Guerra said.

Being successful, not only on the field but off as well, is a priority for the team and program as they recorded the eighth highest GPA in the NCAA DII in 2015. All three players want to become a coach and have started out the right way to leading a team through the start of the softball program. They are hyped for next season and their goals are finishing games together and strong, building team chemistry and the ultimate goal- getting a ring.